Gall Stone Treatment
herbs and gallstones
gallstones and Herbal Treatment
There are well-known herbal medicines to help gently and slowly and safely clear gall stones in the gall bladder. For a quicker method that is safe for all go to our LiverFlushProgramme page. GallStone Less can be taken after the liver flush programme on a low-dose long-term basis so as to prevent a further build up of sand, gravel, and stones in the gall bladder. We recommend you try to save your gall bladder from removal as it has an important function in your digestive system. Avoid the surgeons knive if you can. But let's look at what the gallbladder is and what gallstones are, and review the alternatives.
The Gallbladder and Gallstones
The gallbladder sits just below the liver. It is a little sac that stores bile from the liver. Bile is a fluid produced by the liver and is made up of several substances, including cholesterol, bilirubin, and bile salts. The gallbladder releases bile, via the cystic duct, into the small intestine to help break down the foods you eat — particularly fatty and oily foods. The gallbladder is a quiet organ … until something slows or blocks the flow of bile from the gallbladder, a number of problems are caused, including acute pains.
Problems in the Gallbladder
Some common gallbladder problems include:
Gallstones (called cholelithiasis): This is when small stone-like deposits develop in the gallbladder – some are large, others are gravel-like or sand-like. Gallstones can cause pain known as biliary colic, but about 90 percent of people with gallstones will have no symptoms. When it is acute it is one of the worst pains we can suffer. Gallstones develop over many, many years. Only then do symptoms become evident – aching in the right side, and stabbing pains. Strangely enough, and for unknown reasons, if you have gallstones for more than 10 years, they are less likely to cause symptoms.
Biliary colic: This is the medical term often used for the severe episodes of pain that is caused by gallstone blockage of the cystic duct. This happens when the gallbladder contracts vigorously against the blockage, causing spasmodic (or sometimes constant) severe pain. Biliary colic episodes usually last only an hour or two. They may recur infrequently, sometimes years apart.
Inflamed gallbladder (medically known as cholecystitis): Inflammation of the gallbladder is usually caused by gallstones. Other possible causes are drinking too much alcohol, infections (e.g. due to candida), or even tumors or polyps that cause bile buildup.
The body can react to the gallstone irritation by causing the gallbladder walls to become swollen and painful. Episodes of inflammation can last for several hours, or even a few days, and people can get a temperature as well at times.
It is known that about 20% of the time, the sluggish, inflamed gallbladder is becomes infected by intestinal bacteria. If the infection becomes very bad the gallbladder can rupture, which is a surgical emergency.
Suspected episodes of cholecystitis always require medical attention, particularly if fever is present.
Dysfunctional gallbladder or chronic gallbladder disease: Here, the gallbladder may become rigid and scarred from gallstones and repeated episodes of inflammation. Symptoms are more constant, but tend to be vague, including abdominal fullness, indigestion, and increased gas. Chronic diarrhea is a common symptom, usually occurring after meals, and up to 10 times per day.
What Are Gallstones?
Gallstones are pieces of solid material that form in the gallbladder. Research has shown that microscopic parasites are often causative; the parasites are engulfed and these develop into "sand" in the gallbladder which, over years, grow into larger and large stones. Stones mostly develop because cholesterol and pigments in bile which sometimes form hard particles enlarging over time.
The two main types of gallstones are:
1. Cholesterol stones: Usually yellow-green in color, approximately 80% of gallstones are cholesterol stones.
2. Parasite stones: these can be grey to green and are often softer that the calcified stones.
3. Pigment stones: These stones are smaller and darker and are made up of bilirubin.
What Causes Gallstones?
Several factors may come together to create gallstones, including:
Decreased motility (movement) of the gallbladder (functional physiological inhibition)
Poor Diet and too much sugar (sugar addiction) and refined carbohydrates (resulting in Candida overgrowth)
Gallstones can form when there is an imbalance in the substances that make up bile. For instance, cholesterol stones may develop as a result of too much cholesterol in the bile. Another cause may be the inability of the gallbladder to empty properly. Parasitic infections also inhibit functionality of the gallbladder so that the outflow of bile is reduced, increasing the likelihood of stone formation.
Pigment stones are more common in people with certain medical conditions, such as cirrhosis (a liver disease in which scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue) or blood diseases such as sickle cell anemia.
Most gallbladder symptoms start with pain in the upper abdominal area, either in the upper right or middle.
In more detail gallstone symptoms can be one or more the following:
Severe abdominal pain
Pain that may extend beneath the right shoulder blade or to the back
Pain that worsens after eating a meal, particularly fatty or greasy foods
Pain that feels dull, sharp, or crampy
Pain that increases when you breathe in deeply
Heartburn, indigestion, and excessive gas
A feeling of fullness in the abdomen
Vomiting, nausea, fever
Shaking with chills
Tenderness in the abdomen, particularly the right upper quadrant
Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
Stools of an unusual color (often lighter, like clay)
Some gallbladder problems, like simple gallstones that are not blocking the cystic duct, often cause no symptoms at all. They're most often discovered during an X-ray or CT scan that's performed to diagnose a different condition, or even during an abdominal surgery. If you spot any symptoms of gallbladder trouble, head to your doctor for a diagnosis and prompt treatment to get your digestive tract running smoothly again.
Risk factors for getting gallstones include:
Genetics. If other people in your family have had gallstones, you are at increased risk of developing gallstones.
Obesity. This is one of the biggest risk factors. Obesity can cause a rise in cholesterol and can also keep the gallbladder from emptying completely.
Oestrogen. Oestrogen can increase cholesterol and reduce gallbladder motility. Women who are pregnant or who take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy have higher levels of oestrogen and may be more likely to develop gallstones.
Ethnic background. Certain ethnic groups, including Native Americans and Mexican-Americans, are more likely to develop gallstones.
Gender and age. Gallstones are more common among women and older people.
Cholesterol drugs. Some cholesterol-lowering drugs increase the amount of cholesterol in bile, which may increase the chances of developing cholesterol stones.
Diabetes . People with diabetes tend to have higher levels of triglycerides (a type of blood fat), which is a risk factor for gallstones.
Rapid weight loss. If a person loses weight too quickly, his or her liver secretes extra cholesterol, which may lead to gallstones. Also, fasting may cause the gallbladder to contract less.
How Are Gallstones Diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects you have gallstones, he or she will do a physical exam and may perform various other tests, including the following:
Blood tests: Blood tests may be given to check for signs of infection or obstruction and/or to rule out other conditions.
Ultrasound : This procedure produces images of various parts of the body and can be used to identify gallstones.
CAT scan : This test uses specialized X-rays to create cross-section images of organs and body tissues.
Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP): This test uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to get pictures of structures inside the body, including the liver and the gallbladder.
Cholescintigraphy (HIDA scan): This test can determine whether the gallbladder is contracting correctly. A radioactive material is injected into the patient and makes its way to the gallbladder. The technician can then observe the movement of the gallbladder.
Endoscopic ultrasound: This test combines ultrasound and endoscopy to look for gallstones.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): The doctor inserts an endoscope through the patient's mouth down to the small intestine and injects a dye to allow the bile ducts to be seen. The doctor can often then remove any gallstones that have moved into the ducts.
How Are Gallstones Treated?
If you go via the NHS gallstones are usually treated with surgery to take out the gallbladder. The traditional operation is called an open cholecystectomy. A newer procedure, called laparoscopic cholecystectomy, is less invasive, has fewer complications, and is used more often.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy. During this procedure, instruments, a light, and a camera are passed through several small incisions in the abdomen. The surgeon views the inside of the body by looking at a video monitor. This procedure is used in of the majority of gallbladder removals. After the surgery, the patient spends the night in the hospital.
Open cholecystectomy. This is a more invasive procedure in which the surgeon makes incisions in the abdomen to remove the gallbladder. The patient stays in the hospital for a few days after the surgery.
If gallstones are in the bile ducts, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography may be used to find and remove them before or during gallbladder surgery.
Natural gallstone removal using a herbal programme
This can be a long-term gentle approach (this can take many months or even years), or a more forceful approach using a three-week programme called Liver Flush, which may have to repeated to clear a very compaceted gallbladder. If you choose to take the natural approach rather than surgical removal the stones can reform, so it is recommended that the herbal gallstone herbs are taken daily or 2-3 times a week on a low long-term basis.
Herbs in the Herbactive Gallstone Tonic
Based on strict scientific investigation into the action of these herbs on the gallbladder, its function and action, the herbs used are the following: Barberry, Gold Coin Grass, Cork Tree Bark, Stoneroot, Fringe Tree Bark, Chinese Thorowax (Bupleurum), Chinese Gentian, Greater Celandine, Boldo leaf, Milk Thistle, Wahoo root bark.
The basic action of the herbs causing a synergy in this tonic are used to help reduce the size of gallstones by softening, eroding and degrading (gold coin grass, barberry bark, greater celandine, fringe tree bark, stone root, boldo); inflamed gall bladder (fringe tree bark, gentian, gold coin grass, wahoo, boldo); to protect against liver/gall bladder infections or diseases (barberry, thorowax, fringe tee bark, wahoo, boldo); jaundice (barberry, cork tree bark); anti-microbial (greater celandine, fringe tree bark); pain (greater celandine, gold coin grass, cork tree bark, boldo); constipation (wahoo); improved circulation to the liver and gall bladder (milk thistle, wahoo); detoxifies the hepatic system (gold coin grass, milk thistle, cork tree bark).
"Hi Alan, your Gallstone medicine really, really made a difference. It reduced the pain and discomfort so much even within the first month. I'm now continuing to use the tonic to continue the flushing of the gall bladder so that this awful pain doesn't come back. I'm so pleased. Thank you so much."
"I've been for another scan of my gall bladder and I'm really pleased to report to you that a huge number of the stones have been shown to have gone all because of your brilliant gallstoneless medicine.Thank you so much. I still have aching in my right side because there's more to do. They also were able to see that I have polyps in my gall bladder, these and the stones pressing on them have caused inflammation and pain. I'm sure that once all the stones have been removed with your gallstone flush and the longterm use of your medicine as you advised I will not lose my gallbladder and I will also be pain-free again. Thank you for all your advise and herbal expertise." Louise Hume.
Other treatments that should be considered:
Liver Detox - specific liver herbs to improve liver function
Total Detox - cleansing the whole body
ABC Daily Herbal Powder
Our herbal tonic medicines are carefully prepared on a personal and individual basis for your healing by medical herbalist Alan Hopking MA MNIMH FINEH.
Only whole herbs are used in our herbal medicines. Nothing else is added. If you have symptoms which you consider might be helped with herbal medicine please contact herbal practitioner Alan Hopking for a friendly confidential professional consultation. See terms and fees.
Once you have received your herbal prescription you can contact Alan Hopking at any time for more free advice (preferably by email). When you have completed your bottle of herbal medicine and if you want a repeat prescription you are requested to phone or email so that your progress can be assessed and adjustments made if necessary so that there is no break in your treatment. To order or re-order, click here.
HERBACTIVE Centre of Herbal Medicine, England, UK. Freephone 0800 0834436
General advice to consumers on the use of herbal remedies from the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
From the website of the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (www.mhra.gov.uk) Department of Health, UK
• Remember that herbal remedies are medicines. As with any other medicine they are likely to have an effect on the body and should be used with care. • Herbal remedies may sometimes interact with other medicines. This makes it particularly important to tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking a herbal remedy with other medicines such as prescribed medicines (those provided through your doctor or dentist). • Treat with caution any suggestion that a herbal remedy is '100% safe' or is 'safe because it is natural'. Many plants, trees, fungi and algae can be poisonous to humans. It is worth remembering that many pharmaceuticals have been developed or derived from these sources because of the powerful compounds they contain. Any medicine, including herbal remedies, which have an effect on the body should be used with care. • Treat with caution any herbalist or other person who supplies herbal remedies if they are unwilling or unable to provide written information, in English, listing the ingredients of the herbal remedy they are providing. • If you are due to have a surgical operation you should always remember to tell your doctor about any herbal remedy that you are taking. • Anyone who has previously experienced any liver complaint, or any other serious health complaint is advised not to take any herbal remedy without speaking to their doctor first.
Few conventional medicines have been established as safe to take during pregnancy and it is generally recognised that no medicine should be taken unless the benefit to the mother outweighs any possible risk to the foetus. This rule should also be applied to herbal medicinal products. However, herbal products are often promoted to the public as being “natural” and completely “safe” alternatives to conventional medicines. Some herbal ingredients that specifically should be avoided or used with caution during pregnancy. As with conventional medicines, no herbal products should be taken during pregnancy unless the benefit outweighs the potential risk.
Many herbs are traditionally reputed to be abortifacient and for some this reputation can be attributed to their volatile oil component.(6) A number of volatile oils are irritant to the genito-urinary tract if ingested and may induce uterine contractions. Herbs that contain irritant volatile oils include ground ivy, juniper, parsley, pennyroyal, sage, tansy and yarrow. Some of these oils contain the terpenoid constituent, thujone, which is known to be abortifacient. Pennyroyal oil also contains the hepatotoxic terpenoid constituent, pulegone. A case of liver failure in a woman who ingested pennyroyal oil as an abortifacient has been documented.
A stimulant or spasmolytic action on uterine muscle has been documented for some herbal ingredients including blue cohosh, burdock, fenugreek, golden seal, hawthorn, jamaica dogwood, motherwort, nettle, raspberry, and vervain. Herbal Teas Increased awareness of the harmful effects associated with excessive tea and coffee consumption has prompted many individuals to switch to herbal teas. Whilst some herbal teas may offer pleasant alternatives to tea and coffee, some contain pharmacologically active herbal ingredients, which may have unpredictable effects depending on the quantity of tea consumed and strength of the brew. Some herbal teas contain laxative herbal ingredients such as senna, frangula, and cascara. In general stimulant laxative preparations are not recommended during pregnancy and the use of unstandardised laxative preparations is particularly unsuitable. A case of hepatotoxicity in a newborn baby has been documented in which the mother consumed a herbal tea during pregnancy as an expectorant. Following analysis the herbal tea was reported to contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are known to be hepatotoxic.
A drug substance taken by a breast-feeding mother presents a hazard if it is transferred to the breast milk in pharmacologically or toxicologically significant amounts. Limited information is available regarding the safety of conventional medicines taken during breast-feeding. Much less information exists for herbal ingredients, and generally the use of herbal remedies is not recommended during lactation.
Herbal remedies have traditionally been used to treat both adults and children. Herbal remedies may offer a milder alternative to some conventional medicines, although the suitability of a herbal remedy needs to be considered with respect to quality, safety and efficacy. Herbal remedies should be used with caution in children and medical advice should be sought if in doubt. Chamomile is a popular remedy used to treat teething pains in babies. However, chamomile is known to contain allergenic sesquiterpene lactones and should therefore be used with caution. The administration of herbal teas to children needs to be considered carefully and professional advice may be needed.
The need for patients to discontinue herbal medicinal products prior to surgery has recently been proposed. The authors considered eight commonly used herbal medicinal products (echinacea, ephedra, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, kava, St John’s Wort, valerian). On the evidence available they concluded that the potential existed for direct pharmacological effects, pharmacodynamic interactions and pharmacokinetic interactions. The need for physicians to have a clear understanding of the herbal medicinal products being used by patients and to take a detailed history was highlighted. The American Society of Anaesthesiologists (ASA) has advised patients to tell their doctor if they are taking herbal products before surgery and has reported that a number of anaesthesiologists have reported significant changes in heart rate or blood pressure in some patients who have been taking herbal medicinal products including St John’s Wort, ginkgo and ginseng. MCA is currently investigating a serious adverse reaction associated with the use of ginkgo prior to surgery. In this case, the patient who was undergoing hip replacement experienced uncontrolled bleeding thought to be related to the use of ginkgo.
From the website of the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (www.mhra.gov.uk) Department of Health, UK
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